Planning board to hold community meetings about growth policy update

The Madison County Planning Board will host a slate of community meetings around the county during the next few weeks to discuss community values as part of the ongoing effort to update the county growth policy.

The meetings will be a way for planning board members to have a straightforward discussion about what people value in their community, what they see as threats to those values and what they want done to maintain those values, said Charity Fechter, Madison County Planning Director.

The Madison County Growth Policy is the main document guiding growth in the county. However, it requires regular revision and updating. This round of community meetings follow a questionnaire circulated by the planning board late last year.

The questionnaire guided folks through detailed questions about their feelings concerning aspects of the growth policy, said planning board president Laurie Schmidt. Some folks who responded to the questionnaire felt it was somewhat slanted.

The community meetings will be completely open for what community members want to discuss about the community values they hold dear and want protected, Schmidt said.

“I think we got the (questionnaire) results back and now we’re kind of focusing in on the real core things people care about,” she said.

The meetings will be hosted by members of the planning board and include a slate of recently developed maps about current conditions in the county, including emergency response times, wildlife habitat and fire hazard zones.

The hope is to talk to people and make sure the core values expressed in the growth policy are still valid for residents of the county, Schmidt said.

“Basically we’re looking for people’s input without them having to be grounded in the existing growth policy or anything else,” she said.

The meetings will start March 4 with a meeting in Twin Bridges at the high school’s Montana Room and in Pony at the Masonic Lodge. Both meetings will be at 2 p.m.

The next meeting will be March 6 in Ennis at the fire hall at 6 p.m. There will be a meeting in Sheridan March 11 at 2 p.m. at the Tobacco Root Mountains Care Center. A final meeting is scheduled for Big Sky March 11, at fire station #2 in the Mountain Village at 6 p.m.

Once the community meetings are held the planning board will compile all the comments and information they’ve solicited from the community and develop a slate of growth policy revisions and take those back to the public, Fechter said.

For more information on the growth policy revision or to comment, call the Madison County Planning Department at 843-5250.

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